Whether you still associate them with the pound symbol or even the old-school tic-tac-toe board, the hashtag has become an integral part of the digital lexicon and, yes, even your small business marketing tools. As we’ve covered before, integrating hashtags into your social media marketing plan is an effective way to join the conversation and strategically capture the attention of potential customers. But are you using the right ones? Read on to discover how hashtagging trending topics can result in a big boon for your small biz.

One of the best methods for maximizing your hashtag’s reach is to jump onto trending topics. When done well, it can result in a huge leap in Twitter impressions. Take this recent experiment conducted by the folks at Social Media Beast, published at Business 2 Community (B2C), who saw a spike in their Twitter impressions–from 580 to 1.1 million–when they tweeted trending topics.

But jumping on any trending topic won’t necessarily promise these types of results. Here are some tips for the most effective way to jump on the trending bandwagon without falling off:

Be consistent.
You must continue to tweet your other standard messages. In addition, you must frequently visit – say once every hour or two – to see trending topics and post additional messages related to them. If you can’t do this every day because of time constraints, try doing it once a week or once a month as time permits. Even a few of those big hits can make a big difference as long as there’s some sort of consistency to your tweeting.

Choose trending topics with care.
Some people are tempted to see a trending topic and just start spouting off an opinion with related hashtags. This is a dangerous practice. You need to do a bit of due diligence with the topics that are trending. Voicing opinions on politics or tragedies might not resonate well with your brand or audience.

Also, some hashtags can be misleading. You might think you know what the conversation is about, but when you see the list of messages with the hashtag, it’s about something else entirely.

Make sure your message is appropriate and clever.
After you’ve picked a relevant trending topic, you need to add something of value to the conversation. Craft a tweet that is either humorous, insightful, or offers practical advice. Of course, it needs to match the appropriate tone of the topic at hand. You don’t want to crack a joke when chiming in about a local tragedy, for example. In those cases, you are better off staying out of the conversation or just offering sympathy or shock. Use common sense, and you should be fine.

The moral of the story is properly using trending topics and hashtags can give a boost to your Twitter feed, business, and – if you’re lucky – your bottom line.

How have hashtags helped your business on social media? Let us know in the comments below.